I just renewed my passport. Then my name changed. Now what?
When I went to renew my passport last year—the travel document was set to expire just two weeks after Mr. Smitten and I returned from our honeymoon heaven—it took multiple tries before my application was safely on its way to the Department of State for processing.
The first time that I went to the nearest accepting facility, the person who handles applications had gone to lunch just prior to my arrival.
The second time, she was enjoying a (likely much-needed) day off.
While not terribly inconvenient in the grand scheme of things, it’s fair to say that I was not looking forward to repeating the process after my wedding, when I would need to update my passport again to reflect my married last name.
Fast forward several months.
In the end, switching my name on the document was a far smoother process than when I renewed the book last year, and doing so illuminated a silver lining for brides-to-be in similar situations: You can apply for a name change on your passport without having to pay any renewal fees, as long as you request the name change within a year of when your last passport was issued.
In other words, if you’ve recently changed your name, check to see if your last passport was issued within the last 365 days. If it was, update the document as soon as possible to avoid paying for the book twice in one year.
The process of updating your name on your passport is largely the same as initially applying for one—you will need a new passport photo taken and to fill out the correct form—but all costs are waived other than those for shipping.
You will want to be sure to fill out the right form, DS-5504, available on the Department of State’s website or at your passport accepting facility. (DS-11 is for first-time applicants and DS-82 is for renewing passports that have reached their expiration date.) You can fill out the form online, print it, and take it to an accepting facility, or you can mail your materials (along with your current passport) if you already have had a new passport photo taken.
If you’re working with a honeymoon consultant, he or she also can direct you to the correct application and make sure you have the necessary supporting items, whether you’re in the process of renewing a passport nearing its expiration date or need to update it once you return.
Note: Brides-to-be planning on taking a married name should never list their anticipated new last name on travel documents if they will not have legally changed their name before their honeymoon. This includes on airline tickets, hotel reservations, and more. Listing a name other than what your legal name will be at your time of travel can create a plethora of problems, from airlines refusing to let you board to issues with billing while abroad.